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Anne Hatley is a sharp-witted and acerbic young teacher from the South, in need of a reprieve from the drudgery of work and an increasingly tedious relationship. She accepts an invitation to the nation's largest research colony, where scientistsÂ DNA pioneer James D. Watson among themÂ hope to "cure" Anne of a rare gene that affects her bone growth: She is missing a leg and walks with a prosthesis. Anne feels fine the way she is, and she strives to maintain her resolve under pressure from her peers and from doctors eager to pioneer an experimental procedure, which would make her the first patient to generate a new leg. Meanwhile, she falls into a reluctant romance with the rakish Nick, possessor of the "suicide gene"; befriends Charles Darwin, who is on site digging through the eugenics archive; and attempts to come to terms with her first love.
The Colony is the story of one young woman struggling to accept who she is, and who she will become. But it is also a novel that mines some of the most polarizing issues of our timeÂ among them, medical ethics, body image, and genetic engineering.